Sunday, September 8, 2013

IV.v. Laertes Returns - Kline '90

Laertes' arrival in the Kevin Kline-directed version of Hamlet is pretty standard. While there's no rabble at his heels, the pseudo-military clothes give the feeling of mutiny, and Laertes' strong physical presence is threatening to the older, shorter Claudius, despite his cocksure smile. He's on guard. Laertes himself vacillates between anger and shock, as if he harbors a fear that he's misjudged the King, betrayed his country, and put his life and honor in danger. But before we can fully explore this, his mad sister enters.

In a white dress with a long train, Ophelia looks like she's come from her own demented wedding, and perhaps she has. She hold a paper flower made of what might very well be Hamlet's letters to her, unraveling them like the life she believed she would lead, and letting them fall on the floor, parallel to her tears. It takes a beat before she recognizes her brother and embraces him, though in her confusion, she almost kisses him full on the mouth, hiccuping her line about remembrance to stop herself. That's Hamlet represented. As for her father, she speaks her lines about him ("he made a good end" and so on) in a tone that parodies the platitudes one might hear at a loved one's funeral. Like Hamlet before her, she keeps changing character. Mocking and sincere, impish - stuffing a paper petal down Gertrude's cleavage, for example - and overwhelmed with grief. At the end of the sequence, she struggles with her brother and positively screams her prayers for God to have mercy on them all, finally collapsing in his grip, spent. And she'll walk out the same way she walked in, confused and deaf to the world.

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